It’s every mother’s nightmare – getting the phone call to inform you that your child’s been hurt. Author Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie was lost in the minutia of everyday life when her phone rang but her life was thrown into chaos the moment she lifted it off its receiver. Her son’s story begins in the pages of “Unthinkable: A Mother’s Tragedy, Terror, and Triumph through a Child’s Traumatic Brain Injury” and it follows the unbearable events through his fight for survival.
In 2001 and shortly before the atrocities of 9/11, Coskie’s son, Paul, was involved in his own crisis - an SUV collided with him as he biked on a local street. Without the protection of a helmet, Paul suffered severe injuries to his brain. Coskie’s story takes the reader from the scene of the accident, through a helicopter evacuation, the arrival at the emergency room and last rites from the hospital’s priest, and hookups to a life support system. Over the course of a year, this determined family sees their broken member slowly come out of his coma, relearn to talk, walk, and eventually function again. Paul makes the transition back to school and even actively advocates for helmet use.
“Unthinkable” is told from Coskie’s perspective and utilizes both her narrative of the ordeal as it unfolds as well as a journal written for Paul during the time the accident occurred. Heart-wrenching and vividly detailed, she writes with emotional clarity and truly paints the picture for her readers to follow…so much so that I was crying by page four. I regularly had to put the book down in order to wipe away tears. But the book isn’t all sad. Readers get to witness Paul’s rebirth into normalcy and a family completely changed with newfound appreciation for the little triumphs of life. I celebrated Paul’s determination and cheered for his accomplishments. Further, Coskie takes her life lessons from each stage of this process and offers her readers tips on what to do if a brain injury happens to someone they love. This advice can serve as a companion guide to lessen the feeling of helplessness in a situation.
“Unthinkable” is so much more than a firsthand account of personal tragedy. Coskie’s eloquent style puts you in the middle of the situation while the sheer amount of intensity that she conveys is absolutely exhausting. Those looking for an emotional and heartfelt account of a mother’s strength will love her story while those going through similar circumstances will find a gentle and sympathetic friend. Absolutely powerful.